Cy Twombly

(1928 - 2011)

About The Artist

Cy Twombly, born Edwin Parker Twombly Jr., is known for his scrawled, calligraphic large-scale works, that source Classicism, poetry, and mythology. Twombly drew from "romantic symbolism," in which various signs or mark-making are meant to be read metaphorically rather than as a one-to-one correspondence with what is depicted. He took on an almost Surrealist automatism, which allowed his emotions to serve as a guide to creating work and developing his own visual vocabulary and form of storytelling. Of his own work he said: “My line is childlike but not childish...It is very difficult to fake…that need to project yourself into the child's line. It has to be felt.”

From 1948 to 1951, Twombly studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and  Washington and Lee University before moving to New York to join the Art Students League. It was here that he met Robert Rauschenberg, who would have a lasting impact on Twombly's career. With the encouragement of Rauschenberg, he attended Black Mountain College from 1951 to 1952, where he studied under Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Ben Shahn. At the time of his first solo exhibition in 1951 at The Kootz Gallery in New York, Twombly was highly influenced by Kline’s black-and-white Abstract Expressionist compositions and Paul Klee's childlike imagery.

In 1952, Twombly was awarded a grant from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which allowed him to travel to North Africa, Spain, Italy, and France. Upon his return in 1953, he served in the army as a cryptologist, which perhaps explains the similarity between some of his marks and encrypted communications. From 1955 to 1959, the artist worked in both New York and Italy intermittently before finally settling in Rome. It was during this period that he began experimenting with sculpture made from found materials, which he would then paint white in a nod to Classicism.

Twombly is said to have influenced younger artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anselm Kiefer, Francesco Clemente, and Julian Schnabel.

“Cy Twombly.” Guggenheim. Edited by Guggenheim. Guggenheim, n.d. Web. 11 Jun. 2018.